Old-Fashioned Beauty Secrets That Actually Work

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Razane Jammal Savoir Flair
Photographed by Jeremy Zaessinger for Savoir Flair

We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to modern beauty products. Yes, they might have their advantages – from high-tech wrinkle busters to skin-softening lotions and potions – but if you want to simplify your regime, take a cue from your grandmother. She most likely had limited choice when it came to beautifying and as such had to be imaginative, using a host of nifty ingredients to look her best, from kitchen cupboard staples to some more surprising tools and techniques. But do those age-old pampering tricks really work? Savoir Flair has the lowdown.

Zap Those Zits

Apple cider vinegar is great at treating acne, as the acidity in the vinegar can help dry out those pesky pimples. Make your own toner that’s one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water, then apply on clean skin with a cotton pad before bedtime.

Lighten Your Hair, Naturally

Forget the shampoos that lift your hair color and forgo your expensive monthly trip to the salon, because back in the day lemon juice was the best way to lighten hair. Lemons contain citric acid, which can help open up your hair cuticles. When combined with UV rays, using lemon juice becomes an easy way to get natural-looking highlights. Just squeeze the juice of four lemons and mix with ⅓ of a cup of water in a spray bottle and spritz onto your hair. You can either spray all over to lift your color by a few shades or pick out sections around your face and the crown for a highlighted effect. Sit in the sun for 45 minutes, then wash and condition your hair.

Curl Your Hair Without Heat

Want loose, natural-looking waves like a Victoria’s Secret angel? You don’t need expensive heated rollers or celebrity-endorsed curling tongs to get the look. Instead, cut some fabric into strips and wind small sections of just-washed hair into the fabric. Tie the ends together and sleep in the rags overnight. When you remove them the next morning, you’ll be left with beautifully bouncy waves.

Melt Away Dry Patches

Plagued by rough skin on your elbows and knees? Before AHA peels and Clarisonic body buffers were invented, our grandmothers relied on natural methods to shed dry skin. Before a shower, cut an orange in half and rub it directly on any dry areas. The natural acids will help melt away those rough, flaky patches.

Get Salty

It may not be good for your health if you put too much salt on your food, but our bodies contain the same concentration of minerals and nutrients as sea water so it’s no wonder that sea salt has all manner of benefits as a beautifer. Use it in the bath to flush away infections, soothe aches and pains and to leave skin silky soft. Mix it with honey and apply as a mask to calm red and inflamed skin, or mix it with oil and rub onto the skin to create a very effective exfoliator – it’s brilliant for treating keratosis pilaris on the backs of your arms.

Whiten Your Teeth

The best whitening toothpastes are made from baking soda, so why not make your own teeth whitening concoction? It may not taste very nice, but women in the 1960s used this very trick to get their pearly whites sparkling. Just rub baking soda onto your teeth, leave for a few minutes, and rinse.

Banish Greasy Roots

No time to wash your hair? No problem. Before dry shampoo was invented, retro beauties used talcum powder to soak up greasy roots. This works best on light hair, as the white powder can show up on darker hues so be sure to rub it in. If you want to give it a go, simply shake onto the parting and hairline, ruffle up with your fingers, then brush it out. Hey presto, fresh-looking locks.

Moisturize With Olive Oil

Olive oil isn’t just for cooking, it’s a great beauty multi-tasker too. Use it as a body moisturizer after a bath or shower as it’s full of antioxidants that will help nourish dry skin and protect against pollution and skin damage. You can also use it on dry hair as an overnight conditioner. Simply wrap your hair in a towel to stop the oil ruining your pillows and shampoo it out the next morning. It also works well to condition dry cuticles.

Say Bye-Bye to Frown Lines

What did our grandmothers use on their wrinkles before Botox was invented? Plasters, of course! Yup, plasters stuck on pesky frown lines and deep wrinkles before bed helped flatten out and re-educate the muscles in the face that cause lines in the first place, relaxing the wrinkles without the need for needles. Try Frownies; the modern-day facial pads do a similar job as our grannies’ old-fashioned facial plasters.

Clean Stained Nails

Tsk tsk, didn’t apply a base coat? The only downside of deep, dark mani colors, especially if you forget to protect your nails first, is that they can cause stubborn stains. However, have you tried sticking your nails in a lemon wedge? Just cut the fruit in half and dig your nails into the flesh (watch out for any cuts, though, as it could sting). The citric acid will help whiten and brighten any discoloration. Click here for more tips and tricks to deal with discolored nails.

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